• Tête-à-tête with Diane and Lauren Baxter of @threadstooneedlepoint

    Tête-à-tête with Diane and Lauren Baxter of @threadstooneedlepoint

    Our tête-à-tête this month is with Diane and Lauren Baxter of @threadstooneedlepoint.  Threads Too Needlepoint is a brick and mortar needlepoint shop located in Fair Haven, New Jersey.  As you can see from the photos, the shop looks amazing and it is definitely on my roadtrip list one day. They are currently expanding to a larger space to offer even more services. Diane and Lauren are constantly showcasing new and fun canvases and promoting new and upcoming designers.  I highly recommend that you follow them on Instagram and Facebook as they have the best social media accounts out there in the needlepoint community.  I am very fortunate that Diane reached out to me a couple of years ago to carry my canvases and am absolutely thrilled and honored they agreed to do this month's tête-à-tête. 

    1.  Can you tell us a bit about your needlepoint background, how and when did you both learn to needlepoint?

    Diane: I have been needlepointing since I was in my late teens! My mother did beautiful needlepoints, and taught me. I have not been able to sit quietly and watch TV without stitching ever since. 
    Lauren: I started stitching about 7 years ago when I started dating Diane’s son, Andrew, my now husband! At the time, she was stitching a bunch of beautiful pillows for their new home in Vermont. I had no idea you could create such amazing things!
    2.  Can you give us a bit of the history behind Threads Too Needlepoint?  Have long have you been in business?  And are you both involved in the decisions as to what designers and canvases to carry in the shop? 
    -The owner of our local needlepoint store of 30+ years retired in 2017. We were saddened and worried as to where we would feed our needlepoint habit! So… on a whim, Diane decided to buy the business. As luck would have it a  beautiful space across the street became available, and Threads Too was born! We are both involved in all the decisions for the store, and we have so much fun picking out new canvases, threads, and finding new designers!
    3.  Diane, the question everyone wants to know, how is it working with your daughter-in-law and for you too Lauren, how did you start working with Diane?
    Diane: I feel very lucky to have Lauren working with me. She has brought in a young, fresh point of view while still having an appreciation for the classic art of needlepoint. We both have similar tastes so it makes it very easy to work together. When I closed the store to in-person shopping due to the pandemic, Lauren came in full time and took over the Instagram and social media. She has done an amazing job, the outreach and growth has been incredible! Those millennials!!! 
    Lauren: As Diane said, I started working at the store full time when the pandemic hit. I first though I would be taking a little break from my career as a hairstylist in NYC while “we flatten the curve”. As the months of quarantine went on I found myself loving being at the store and working with my mother-in-law and growing our family business together, so in July 2020, I quit my job and committed myself to Threads Too! We have a very good relationship and I genuinely enjoy our time together, I often hear I am lucky to have a mother in law I love and get along so well with, and I couldn’t agree more!
    4. Can you tell us a bit about what you both have in your stash and what are you stitching at the moment?
    Diane: I have a quite a few projects going at the moment! Right now I am stitching your “Netflix and Stitch” canvas, because that’s just about all I do at the moment! I am also working on a small @kimberlyannneedlepoint mini-flat squares canvas to turn into a Credit Card holder. I am almost finished with the Cornflower canvas by @thornalexanderstyle, and now I am back to stitching an Hermes inspired canvas by @katedickerson that I will make into a lucite tray for the store. I often start a project, and then a new canvas arrives at the store and I can’t help myself! I get sidetracked! There is no such thing as too many canvases in the stash! 
    Lauren: I also have a few projects in the works at the moment. It kind of depends on my mood and if  I am up for stitching my 18mesh projects (LOL). I am currently stitching your Blue Leopard clutch,  I switched up the colors to shades of green (my favorite color) with Silk and Ivory Threads and I am IN LOVE with it! I am also stitching the Ballerinas canvas by @plumdesign_ for my friends daughter. I loved that canvas from the first time I saw it and I knew I had to stitch it! I also have a belt I am working on, and on the weekends I like to do a small project such as an ornament. The quick finishes are very rewarding!   
    5.  You have a very strong media presence on Instagram and Facebook.  How do you think the business has evolved since the pandemic?
    We closed the store to in-store shopping March of 2020 and have not been able to reopen yet (we are planning to reopen to in store shopping by the end of April!).  With that said, we have had no choice but to evolve. Social Media has been a crucial part of our business this past year. Most of our new customers found us through Instagram, and the outreach has been amazing! Since we have new customers from all across the country, we have been doing “virtual shopping” via FaceTime and Text to help them to see the canvas and pull threads from afar, and we will continue to offer that service even after the pandemic! We are now buying for a much broader audience, especially now that there has been a huge surge of new and young needlepointers! That definitely opens up a wider range of canvases to choose from, that we may not have been able to sell in store before, especially when it comes to 18 mesh canvases. Now that we have been doing so much shipping, we have decided to move our store into a bigger space next door which gives us a room that we can dedicate to wrapping and shipping! We have really enjoyed connecting with this community of needlepointers and designers, and we are so grateful for the support! 


    6.  What do you see for the future of brick and mortar shops such as yourself?

    We think that this pandemic has made people appreciate the in store shopping experience and the social interaction. People really miss being able to look at canvases in person, touch the threads, and play with different colors and fibers, and have a friendly chat. Our local customers are missing our bi-weekly stitch ins, as are we! We do think brick and mortar stores will be stronger than ever as people have a whole new appreciation for supporting small businesses!  
    Thank you Diane and Lauren for such a fun and informative tête-à-tête.  We wish you much success with your expansion and can't wait to see what you post next!
  • Tête-à-tête with Sara Trucksess of @sct_designs

    Tête-à-tête with Sara Trucksess of @sct_designs

    Our tête-à-tête this month is with Sara Trucksess of @sct_designs. Sara is married and has 4 young sons and lives in Kansas City.  She has always been involved with needlepoint in one way or another most of her life.  When I first started following Sara, I was immediately taken with her use of vibrant colors and her range of designs.  It was such a fresh breath to see such fun, cheerful canvases.  I'm not sure how it started but we eventually started chatting online and I am absolutely delighted that she agreed to do the tête-à-tête for us this month.

    1. Can you tell us a bit about your needlepoint background, how and when did you learn to needlepoint, and when did you start painting your own canvases?

    I come from a long line of artists and fiber artists: needlepointers, knitters, quilters, designers, and painters. I was always surrounded by some type of productive crafting as a child and I participated with great joy. I can first remember knitting sweaters for my dolls with my grandmother, followed by needlepointing a pillow for my bedroom around age 8 or 9. My grandmother was an artist and we painted together nearly every day of every summer. My mom is also an artist who used to design needlepoint canvases before I was born. I picked up needlepoint again as an adult in late 2018/early 2019 when I finally felt like I had a modicum of free time after years of raising a whole pile of boys. Trying to find time for yourself in the throws of parenting is complicated - there are such tiny pockets of time in which you find yourself suddenly free... 5 minutes in carpool line, 10 minutes while watching a kid splash around in the bathtub. I had been spending those stolen moments to myself pointlessly scrolling my phone. Needlepoint filled the void with a much more productive activity! I started designing my own canvases almost immediately after I picked needlepoint up again. I love the stitching, but I’m an artist at heart and I needed the freedom of blank canvas to make things look the way I wanted them to. I actually started free stitching designs on blank canvas first. I started painting them secondarily when people began requesting them.

    2. Suddenly, there seems to be an explosion of your new canvases each one prettier than the next, appearing daily on Instagram.  Do you have a seasonal schedule as to what you paint and when you want to release them?  Give us some insight as to your painting schedule.

    Oh gosh, thank you! This really has been my most fun career to date! I feel like I need to do a better job of planning ahead seasonally. I am frequently scrambling to figure out what day it is, let alone what month anymore. But typically, I feel most inspired by the season I’m in. So, for example, when holidays roll around, I finally get my head around holiday designs. I get to painting them and then I have them painted in volume with the help of my wholesale rep, @kcndesigners. With the delays we have experienced in the needlepoint industry this past year, that frequently puts designs out right on schedule for the following year’s holiday buying cycle. But truly by accident, not by design! I just paint what I’m thinking about at that moment. What you’re seeing come out now are things I painted last spring and summer that are finally arriving, all at once! I’ve set up camp in my dining room lately while all the boys have been home on and off with virtual school. From there I can help with homework, initiate other craft projects, deliver (endless) snacks and paint canvases all at the same time. It’s something I truly enjoy and would likely be doing every day no matter what. The fact that it has turned out to also be my job is the cherry on top!

    3. I noticed that you recently have done several collaborations with other needlepoint designers. Can you tell us a bit about them and do you foresee doing more in the future? 

    I adore the collaborative nature of needlepoint. Every canvas that I paint is specifically made to be reinterpreted by someone else’s creative brain and I love seeing the colors and finishes people pick to make pieces their own. Collaborating with other designers has been a really fabulous creative exercise that helps me hone my million-and-one ideas into a direction I might never have considered before. And that is such a thrill to me! My very first collaboration with Janet Blyberg @jcb_stitches was an absolute delight. Janet and I used to work for the same photography curator at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. 20 years ago and getting to reconnect was an added bonus! Our buoy clutch will be making its wholesale debut via @kcndesigners next week. My collaboration with Lo Harris @loharris_art has also been such a joy. Her confidence and vibrancy are palpable and being able to introduce her to our needlepoint community has been a total privilege. Getting to delve into printed canvases with both @moorestitching and has been such a wonderful way to bring more accessibility to our craft and I’ve been awed and thrilled by the initial success of my DIY knotted headband collaboration with darling blogger and needlepoint designer Krista Robertson of @pennylinndesigns. We are furiously working to get more headbands into everyone’s hands! I’ve also got a wholesale line of tartan headbands that were launched this past week that will be  coming to your local shop via @kcndesigners.  My friend Patricia O’Dell @mrsblandings_stitches and I have a floral collaboration arriving this spring that includes some of my most favorite canvases to date. And I also have some fun shop exclusives happening right now, with a new Year of the Ox ornament at The Needlepoint Clubhouse @stlneedlepoint, a great 21 Stitch Challenge kit at @kcneedlepoint and an exclusive line of fully kitted canvases with a brand new online shop called @happystitchingdotcom.  I’m very excited about an upcoming collaboration with one of my very favorite interior design shops in the country and there are a few more partnerships that are in their infancy now with great potential for excellent collaborations soon. I can’t wait to share them all with you! I’m always excited to collaborate in new and interesting ways, so I hope to have even more projects with friends on the docket in the future. Even the messages people send me with requests and ideas for my regular line of canvases are something of a collaboration. I love to know what people want to stitch and then think about how to create them in my own way.

    4. Can you tell us what’s in your stash and what are you stitching at the moment?  Also, is there a favorite canvas that you have in your collection?

    Right now I am trying to catch up on stitching a lot of my samples. This year, I would really like to expand my stash to include more designs from all the talented designer friends I have made over the past couple of years! I need this 4th kid of mine to go off to kindergarten and then I have big dreams of lying on my couch all day needlepointing anything I want whilst eating bonbons. Hahaha- yeah, right! I got canvases to paint and boys to feed!! But a girl can dream! I just finished stitching up the buoy clutch from my collaboration with Janet Blyberg @jcb_stitches and one of her darling buoy ornaments too. I have started working on my 21 Stitch Challenge sampler with @kcneedlepoint and I’ve also been cranking out headband sample canvases as fast as I can stitch lately! I’m hoping to stitch one of the Matisse canvases from this spring. And then I’m considering some @moorestitching monogrammed pillows for my family room so I can throw away some other pillows that my kids have trashed... after that, some Christmas pillows, and then, who knows! I have a great tartan Westie canvas from Cat’s Cradle that I’d love to stitch before the next holiday season rolls around. We had a Westie for 14 years and the obsession does not go away! I have a lot of favorite canvases in my collection, which is why I think I have so many designs. How can I pick from all of the amazing patterns and colors the world has to offer? I love parts of all of them. But I think my favorite is probably the koi fish that was co-designed with my oldest son when he was in 7th grade. He came home with this fabulous fish drawing one day and it was just begging to be painted.

    5. As a mother of 4 young boys, how and when do you find time to not only design, paint but also stitch all of your canvases? 

    Unfortunately I don’t get to stitch every design, which is why I am truly so delighted to see the finishes people share. Sometimes it’s the first time I’ve gotten to see something finished! But the short answer is: there’s never enough time in the day!! Somehow you just find time for the activities (and people) you love the most. I have always been entranced by fabric, color and pattern. I owned endless artist biographies, drawing and fashion design books as a child that I used to pore over and create from... it’s what I have always done in my free time. While life led me to practical artistic careers in museums, auction houses and more, I never lost that constant desire for creation in my daily life. Now, when I start rearranging my living room pillows and suddenly end up a down a rabbit hole of redecoration plans, needlepoint offers me the opportunity to create my own fabric, exactly as I want it, down to the last detail. Designing is both my stress relief and my joy. My boys are 14, 12, 9, and 4 now, and sometimes old enough to do lots of things around the house for themselves (with lots and lots of direction, although, darnit, still not the laundry!! Yet!!). I’m so grateful that a career in needlepoint allows me to be here for them while they still need me, and feed my own creative needs at the same time. I think it’s good for them to see me working on something I truly love. I definitely lose track of time when I get a good idea. It’s like a bee in my bonnet and I often can’t stop until I’ve seen it through to completion. I am so grateful for the help that @kcndesigners offers me with distribution. I would never be able to do it all alone, and I certainly haven’t been able to keep up with all the stitching either. But it’s all joy, even the parts I can’t get to right now, and in 2021 what can we all hope for but a little bit of happiness at home!

    Thank you Sara for such a fun and informative tête-à-tête.
  • Tête-à-tête with Janet Blyberg of @jcb_stitches

    Tête-à-tête with Janet Blyberg of @jcb_stitches

    When I first started following Janet, I was immediately impressed with her meticulous stitching, her use of colors and her constant use of Bella Lusso wool and the elegance of her canvases. Throughout the years she has come to design a collection of wedding cakes and customized buoys which both became instant hits. This month, Janet will be introducing her wedding cakes and buoys wholesale that will be distributed by @plumdesign_. There is talk of other New England inspired canvases coming soon. I am absolutely thrilled to have Janet as our January Tête-à-tête.

    1.  For some of our readers who don’t follow you, could you please tell us a bit about your needlepoint background, how and when did you learn to needlepoint?

    I began stitching when I was a little girl. My great grandmother, grandmother, and great aunt were always stitching something, and I think I just learned by being around them. There were always baskets of projects lying around their houses. My great grandmother stitched into her 90s, and my grandmother into her 80s. I still have some of their pieces. My grandmother and her sisters always were stitching things for each other, and to be honest, I don’t always know who stitched what! 

    2. You  have designed one of the cutest wedding cake ornaments I’ve seen and also a series of buoys.  Could you please give us a bit of the background of both of those?

    Thank you! The wedding cakes came about after my cousin was engaged. I offered to stitch her something as a gift, and she wanted a wedding cake ornament personalized with initials and dates. I couldn’t find any canvases out there that fit the bill, so I designed one inspired by a piece that Alexandra Martin (@millenial_needlepointer) had created to commemorate her own wedding. 

    The buoys were originally designed as Christmas gifts for the ladies of Stitch Club Maine.  Living on the coast of Maine, I love seeing masses of buoys hanging on a bait shack, and it struck me that they would make for a fun little canvas. The concept is so simple, and the more the merrier—all different colors and combinations of stripes. I think it would be great fun to finish a whole bunch of them as a garland. Plus, the motif can be used in so many different ways. I have done scissors cases, key fobs, sunglasses straps.  Earlier this year I did a collaboration with Sarah Trucksess (@sct_designs), using the buoys on one of her amazing clutch designs. That canvas will be available for sale this spring through Sara’s distributor, KCN Designs. 

    3. You recently announced that you will be designing a line of needlepoint canvases under the umbrella of @plumdesigns_.  Tell us a bit about that decision.

    After I posted a photo of the wedding cake I designed to Instagram, friends asked if I would paint one for them. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I had more orders than I could handle. That was the early days of the pandemic, and I was working remotely, homeschooling, and painting orders at night. I was overwhelmed, and I turned to my friend Joanna Somers at Plum Stitchery (@plumdesign_) for advice. She helped me to figure out how to shift to wholesale—turning the canvas painting over to a studio, and distributing through her company. The buoys will be available through her too! 

    4. What are you stitching at the moment?  Do you tend to stitch multiple canvases at the same time or are you a one canvas at a time girl?

    Oh goodness, I have a whole basket of works-in-progress! There are always about 5 or 10 projects going at any one time. There’s always an easy to-go project that I can throw in my purse. Then two or three large projects (like pillows or stockings), and a couple bedside projects. I just finished stitching Morgan Julia’s little ensign flag, and am about done with a sweet little canvas of a lemon wreath by Patty Paints. I am also working on a large canvas of lilies of the valley that has been in the WIP pile for more than a year.

    5. I am always so impressed by your finished canvases, your stitching is so exquisite along with your color and fiber choices.  

    Again, thank you! I am not at all a fancy stitcher. I adore the simple look of basketweave in soft, luxurious wool. Its classic and timeless. But, color choice is key. I tend to stick to one type of wool thread, so I have developed quite a stash of it. In fact, I probably have the full line of colors at this point! As I am working on canvas, I am able to pull things from my stash if I find that something is not quite right. I also enjoy mixing in silk and metallic treads to create an effect, rather than using a fancy stitch.

    @morganjuliadesigns  @pattypaintsneedlepoint

    6. Can you please share with us some of the goodies you have in your stash?

    As luck would have it, I have just finished organizing my stitch stash for the year, so I can share that. It is helpful to me to have a game plan for the year (even if I don’t stick to it!). I have a pile of ornaments to stitch, along with a few big items. This year, I am in the mood for birds and animals! There is also a little series of things to stitch for my son. 

    7. Is there anything special on your wish list that you would like to stitch one day?

    There are so many things! Most of all, I dream about getting through my stash! We are just finishing up a project to renovate our attic into a work and play space. It’s a beautiful, blank space, and I have been buying canvases with the space in mind. I am looking forward to finally diving into those pieces. Lots of blue and white, and nautical themed pieces (the space was once used as a sail-making loft). There is something so satisfying about working on a big long-term project. 

    And one day, I would love to do one of those large wreath canvases. There is a Barbara Russell one with woodland animals that is just divine. But, first I need to get my Christmas stocking done, and whittle down the current stash!


    Thank you Janet for such a fun and informative tête-à-tête.  We wish you much success with your new venture and can't wait to see your canvases in the shops very soon.


  • Tête-à-tête with Joanna Somers of @plumdesign_

    Tête-à-tête with Joanna Somers of @plumdesign_

    Our tête-à-tête this month is with Joanna Somers of @plumdesign_.  Joanna is married, has 4 young children and lives in Ohio.  She is extremely diverse in her talents.  She is the needlepoint designer behind The Plum Stitchery, she recently started Plum Design where she "slap-paints" onto pages of old books, she has a coterie of needlepoint designers that she manages and she does collaborations with many famous artists.  Some time ago, I slid into her DMs and am now constantly picking her brain on a whole range of topics.  I am very proud to call her a friend and am thrilled she is doing this tête-à-tête.  

    1.  Can you tell us a bit about your needlepoint background, how and when did you learn to needlepoint, and when did you start painting your own canvases? 

    The lovely ladies at Wool & Willow taught me to stitch in 2014; my mother-in-law brought me to the shop right after she stitched her first project thinking I would enjoy it, too.  I remember bringing home my first project and putting on a shelf, afraid to ruin it, but within a few days I couldn’t put it down.  Before that, I was a hand-quilter, and I’m sorry to say I’ve not quilted more than an hour since I started needlepointing.

    Within a few months of that first project, I had the chance to work at Wool & Willow two days a week and I jumped at it; it was the first job I’d ever had that I never once dreaded going to work.  One day, I thought I might try designing my own canvas and Anne, who owns Wool & Willow, gave great advice for painting: use thin acrylic paint and the smallest, cheapest brush.  It took many, many attempts to find the best approach, and I made a lot of canvases that ended up in the trash, but I was as hooked by painting as I was by stitching. 

    Over the next few years, I designed off and on as our family grew and when my third child was 6 months old, I picked up the brush again and re-launched The Plum Stitchery.  That was the summer of 2017 and since then I’ve met and befriended an amazing community of stitchers, designers, shop owners, and finishers. 

      2. I am in love with some of your collaborations with well-known artists. Can you tell us how you came to get involved with them and how do you decidewhich pieces to convert to needlepoint canvas? 

    Thank you!  Collaborating with artists of other mediums is the most unexpected part of running this company and it is an understatement to say how thrilled I am to work with each one.  Every stitcher has his or her own style; every artist willing to share their work with the needlepoint community just makes it that much easier for each of us to stitch something we love.

    Making connections with various artists usually happens through Instagram.  Sometimes, I see a piece of artwork and know it would be stunning in needlepoint, or that there’s nothing else like it available to stitch.  It’s a little scary to slide into someone’s DMs and chirp about needlepoint but I’m fortunate to have met generous and kind artists who let me adapt their work.  Some artists know exactly which pieces of their collection they want me to adapt while others let me make suggestions.  Either way, it’s been an experience to recreate these various works of art on canvas; in a way, it feels like I’m walking in someone else’s shoes when I paint their designs.







    3. Recently, you started painting the most exquisite pieces of art on torn out pages of old classic books. What led you to this and did you think it would be such a success? Do you have a favorite one you’ve painted?

    Thank you so much!  My oldest loves to create artwork and this summer requested “painting nights” where she would get to stay up later than her siblings and we sit together and paint (I usually am very mean about sharing my art supplies).  On one of these nights, I saw a used copy of Vanity Fair on the bookshelf and thought it would be fun to paint on its pages.  That particular novel has great chapter titles that informed whatever illustrations I could add, and soon I was pulling more and more books off the shelf. 

     There isn’t a favorite painting in the bunch, but I’m always excited when I’m able to get something on the page that looks how I imagined it could look.  The response has been lovely, and I’m immensely honored when someone commissions a custom piece, though my workload has made it almost impossible to take on these projects.


    4. Can you tell us what’s in your stash and what are you stitching at the moment? Also, do you have a favorite needlepoint piece you’ve designed? 

    My eyes are bigger than my needles and I have more canvases in my stash than I could stitch in my lifetime, but that’s okay!  There are so many gorgeous designs, both new and vintage, and it’s good to have options when it comes to stitching; sometimes I’m in the mood for small or simple or detailed or fancy stitches and it’s nice to have a rotation of projects to match my mood.  My current project is a Kirk & Bradley twelvetide stocking; I can’t put it down.



    5.  You seem to certainly have your plate full, you’re married, have 4 young children, you design needlepoint and paint, you collaborate, you manage other designers, how do you possibly do it all?

    Many times, I feel like I can’t do it all.  Running a creative business is always a balancing act between logistics and creativity; especially this year with the amazing boom our industry seems to be in the midst of, a lot of my time goes to managing orders and inventory, shipping, trunk shows, maintaining the Web site, and marketing and less to designing new canvases.  As it always does, it will balance out again and I’ll find more time to design again. 

     In the day to day, in terms of working while being a stay-at-home mom, I have a standing desk in our sunroom and I jump into work throughout the day whenever possible; that has been the most challenging lesson to learn since starting this business: sometimes I need to work in two-minute increments.  After the kids go to bed is when I get to really focus on work; I make a pot of coffee and work as late as I can. 


    6.  Since the pandemic at the beginning of this year, we have seen a spate of needlepoint designers. If you were starting out anew, what would you tell yourself?

    This is the first company I’ve run and doing so has been one of the scariest and most fulfilling things I’ve done.  I’m very much still new to this and still learning every day how I can do things better, but I would tell myself to breathe more and not stress about growing pains. 

    Thank you Joanna for such a fun and informative tête-à-tête.